–By Josephine Wawira, Consultant at Jumia Travel
An analysis by McKinsey Global Institute and reported by Infinite Potentials Consulting, forecasts that by 2025, Africa’s household consumer spending will reach US$2.1Trillion, a 45% increase from 2015. This presents promising business opportunities in a wide range of consumer-facing industries including hospitality. Hoteliers should therefore capitalize on this opportunity to boost hotel occupancy rate, using these online marketing strategies.
Invest in the right digital marketing technology
With renewed commitment to invest in digital marketing technologies, hoteliers can easily tap into the online market to boost their hotel occupancy. Cyrus Onyiego the Country Manager of Jumia Travel Kenya notes that ‘advertising should take up approximately 5% of total room revenue, out of which digital marketing should be about 85%’.
It is important to analyze market insights and trends when conducting your market research and while laying down strategic plans. This will help you understand the target audience in all its aspects such as preferences in room facilities as well as the average accommodation budget. The success of your online marketing strategy will go a long way in selling your hotel widely thus increasing occupancy.
Develop relevant online content
Most hotel websites usually contain general description of their hotel, location amenities, services, rates and a whole lot of pictures, which undoubtedly is important for attracting more potential customers. However, having an online presence goes beyond that. Before making a booking either directly or through an OTA, travelers search an average of 38 sites, according to a study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions in December 2015. Therefore, hotel sites that integrate other informative pieces such as travel tips and top destinations tend to attract more traffic especially from a market always in search of fresh gen. If the content is relevant and informative, the traffic is likely to convert to bookings.
Either on the hotel’s site or with your respective online travel agent, running reward programs to customers be it in the form of vouchers, discounted rates and offers go a long way in retaining existing guests. Basically, hotel loyalty programs enable returning guests to accrue points which then attract benefits such as free gym/spa treatment, flexible check in/out, complimentary meals, free airport transfers and room upgrades among others.
There are already customers who have patronized your hotel and you are almost sure they will check in any time they are in your vicinity. Creating a mailing list will help you keep them on the loop about the hotel’s discounts, offers/promotions and even of any changes that may take place. Involve them further by sending personalized emails, either to check on their welfare or to make official communication. Personalization will make your customers feel as though they are part of the business and that appreciation will propel them to keep coming back and even refer others.
The hotel business is highly dependent on the room occupancy rate, and this calls for innovative means of tapping into all available opportunities to keep afloat. The online platform provides a whole playground on which hoteliers can reach as many customers as they possibly can. All it takes is making that long overdue strategic move.